Next Question

Now That Millions of Women Have Left Their Jobs, What Do Working Moms Really Need?

reshma saujani

This week on Next Question, Katie speaks to Reshma Saujani about why so many moms have decided not to go back to work since the pandemic.

This week on Next Question, Katie is tackling a big issue: the unique challenges women are facing as they return to the office.

To better understand why the pandemic impacted women so drastically and what we can do about it, Katie asked an expert: Reshma Saujani, the former CEO of Girls Who Code. Saujani started the organization back in 2012 as a way to bridge the gender gap in tech, but now she’s got a new mission: to support women, particularly moms, in redefining what it means to have a successful work/life balance.  

Saujani recognizes that balancing the work-life/home-life balance has been a major problem for women since long before the pandemic hit. “We’ve been sold a big lie,” she says. “We were told that if we learned hard enough, if we ‘girl bossed’ our way, there was an express train to the top. We have set women up to fail.” 

Of the almost 12 million women who left the workforce in March of 2020, a lot of the women who have not returned are moms. Saujani explains why this transition back to being a working parent is so difficult: “We were always expected to hide our motherhood to have it all. ‘Have it all’ was basically just a euphemism for doing it all.” Katie agrees, saying: “It sucks to be a working mom in America.” 

That said, Saujani sees the ramifications of the pandemic on working moms as an opportunity to change the system. “This is the time,” she says, “to start redesigning and rethinking how we’ve traditionally done things…We should really connect the economic cost of not changing these company structures in terms of attrition, in terms of innovation, in terms of diversity, so that we can get wholesale changes that we embed into our workplaces forever.”

To hear more of Katie’s conversation with Saujani, including how she bounced back after a failed run for Congress and why she decided to write her new book, Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work and Why It’s Different Than You Think, check out this week’s episode of Next Question